Tennis returns to China after a four-year hiatus. The pandemic and the strong restrictions adopted by local governments are not the only reason that has distanced the ATP and WTA Tours from East Asia. Last year, in fact, the Shuai Peng's issue upset plans and pushed Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA, to make a tough decision.
The Chinese woman, through a post published on Weibo, had initially accused the former vice prime minister and member of the Communist Politburo Standing Committee Zhang Gaoli of violence and rape. Her social profiles suddenly disappeared from the web and there was no news of her for several months.
A case that has shocked public opinion and denounced by many illustrious figures in the world of tennis and sport in general. Only a questionable email and several videos released by the Chinese government provided updates on the matter.
China has always played a decisive role from an economic point of view for the WTA Tour. Not everyone, however, has forgotten the past as if nothing had happened. Alize Cornet has in fact announced that she will not take part in any tournament in China to remain faithful to her ideas: "I remain faithful to my beliefs and attentive to my health.
I have decided that I will not play in China this year. My season will therefore resume in October. See you soon!"
About Peng's issue
Evidence that has not convinced anyone, because Peng has always appeared in the company of journalists from state or semi-state newspapers.
The International Olympic Committee thus organized a video call with Peng, which would have reassured everyone about her health. An interview given to the newspaper L'Equipe at the beginning of 2022 finally saw Peng recant all accusations and speak of a misunderstanding.
The WTA thus seems to have abandoned the battlefield, in 2022 it canceled every tournament in China, and announced that the women's circuit will return to hosting tournaments in the Asian country through a statement that was anything but persuasive.
"After 16 months of suspension of competition in China, there have been no signs of change. Since we will never achieve our goals, we cannot allow our players to pay the ultimate price."